2020 CFL draft examination: Montreal Alouettes

Due to the Johnny Manziel trade, Montreal Alouettes’ general manager Danny Maciocia doesn’t hold a first round pick in either the 2020 or 2021 drafts.

Former GM Kavis Reed sent two first rounders to Hamilton as part of the blockbuster deal that included five players, the headliner being Manziel. The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner hasn’t played football since his release prior to the 2019 season, though Montreal was able to make the playoffs despite his absence.

If Maciocia wanted to acquire a first-round pick, he could do so by trading up. The Alouettes hold two selections in the second round, two in the third, one in the fourth, two in the sixth, one in the seventh and two in the eighth for a total of 10.

This will be Maciocia’s first draft of his tenure in Montreal. It would be fitting if the proud Quebecor could choose a player from his home province. It’s worth noting that he recruited and coached University of Montreal defensive back Marc-Antoine Dequoy for four years with the Carabins.

Dequoy signed an undrafted NFL free agent contract with the Green Bay Packers which could cause him to slide down the board, but whether he makes it to the Alouettes in the second round is unknown. With the certainty of a shortened season and possibility for no CFL football in 2020, other franchises could view Dequoy as a high-end futures pick.

Maciocia schemed against Laval University defender Adam Auclair over four seasons for the Quebec Conference crown. Auclair is a versatile defender who could enter the CFL and make an impact right away on special teams. While at Laval, Auclair was moved around the defence to best-suit the opponent each week. He’s a unique, smart, athletic player who knows how to play championship football.

Montreal traded Bo Lokombo to Toronto in January, Chris Ackie left for the Argos in free agency and Taylor Loffler is entering the last year of his contract. Dequoy or Auclair would provide the Als with a young defensive back to help replace Lokombo and Ackie or even Loffler if he isn’t long for Montreal. That’s where a trade scenario could come in, if Maciocia feels neither player will fall into his lap in the second round.

Packaging the pair picks to get a premium asset in the first round would make a lot of sense on many levels. Maciocia has kept the offence largely intact with extensions for quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., receiver Eugene Lewis and a group of quality Canadian offensive linemen in place. He believed in defence at U de M and focused on that side of the ball during his final years with the Carabins. Those connections could lead to other University of Montreal grads joining the Als.

It feels like defence and special teams ability is the priority for Maciocia at the top of the draft, but should he elect to go elsewhere position-wise there are a number of potential impact-makers. Maciocia’s first choice leading the Alouettes will set the tone for how he wants to build his Canadian depth.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.